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"Smoke and Mirrors"

Smoke and Mirrors

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19

Disclaimer: All characters alive or dead belong to Marvel and the creative genius of Jim Lee\Claremont\Kirby\Stan Lee etc . . . . I did not create them (except Zodiac and the bigots) and they are not used to make me any form of profit. It wouldn't be worth anyone's while to sue me as I am an extremely poor schoolkid who's doing this in her spare moments. I, however, will get my crack team of lawyers on anyone who alters a single word, archives without crediting me and generally plagarises my work. :-) This story is still squeaky clean and generally innocent - apart from some non-graphic violence and some non-graphic mush. Read it to Granny instead of her Mills and Boons. Any commentary, cheers and complaints to RogueStar.
P.S. Thanks to Keri Wilson and her marvellous music knowledge! The Beatles sang 'Yesterday' and it was written by Paul McCartney. Your faux no-prize is in the mail, Keri!

Part 16

"I apologise for the landing...," Haller said, brushing dirt off his uniform, "I was never trained in the use of my time-travelling powers."

Sabrina leBeau flew down from the tree in which she had landed, "Y'all don't say, sugah?"

"Dis is jus' one o' de many reasons I started de rebellion." Remy said from his position in the duck pond. He spat out a mouthful of brackish water. "T'save on m'dry-cleanin' bill."

Sabrina gave him her hand and pulled him upright.

"Where ta from here, Haller?"

He grimaced, " I used a disturbance in space-time to pinpoint the coordinates of our time- travelling assassin. Unfortunately, the amount of chronal static prevented me from pinpointing the exact location. This basically means we could be anything from one yard to one mile away from the actual site."

"An' dat means we scout around f'r him." Remy shrugged, "Me an' Sabs'll take de west, you take de east - rendez-vous here in a few minutes."

Haller nodded and disappeared into the darkness that surrounded them on all sides.

"Let's go." The rebel leader touched his wife's arm, "No time t'waste, petite."

They edged slowly forward, hugging the shadows of the buildings and bushes that made up much of the Israeli landscape. A rustle sounded near them in the shrubbery, incongruous in the silence.

"Get ready. Dere's someone comin'." Remy whispered, moving protectively in front of Sabrina.

"Ah can look after mahself." She clicked the magazine of her gun in place and cocked it.


He smiled, "So y'can, belle. So y'can."

The bushes parted, revealing a man made of transparent, silvery ice. His blue eyes lit up in astonishment as he saw the two rebels.

"Drake?" Remy leBeau dropped his weapon to his side. The blade fizzled out like a damp squib on a rainy night.

"Gambit?" The young man grinned in relief, "Nice scar."

"Ah'd keep still if'n Ah liked mah brains where they are, gene traitor."

Sabrina's voice was cold as she put the weapon to Storm's head, "Are y'here on McTaggert's behalf, or on your own?"

"Rogue? By the Bright Lady, what has come over you?"

"Ah don't know who this  Rogue' person is, or why you think appealin' ta her will help you." Her mouth twisted, "Th' name's Sabrina. Sabrina leBeau."

"leBeau?" Wolverine smirked, "You and the cajun must have gotten pretty cosy while we were away."

"Logan?" Remy asked surprised, "Mon Dieu, what happened t'ya?"

"Might ask the same about you, gumbo. You show up on a mission you ain't supposed to be on, with a scar on your face and married to Dixie over there." Wolverine nonchalantly scraped a claw against the bush, "Kind of makes me think that you ain't really Remy leBeau."

"Actually, monsieur. It is you who are not meant t'be on dis mission." His eyes glowed, "Drake and ya should be back at de base, guardin' it in case McTaggert's troops attempt a bust."

"McTaggert? Moira McTaggert?" Storm asked.

"Th' Emissary o' all th' human lands." Sabrina spat, "Th' witch that imposed legislation which took away any an' all civil rights from mutants. Y'all should know, seein' as you're her lapdog."

"I understand now." Storm said, "These two people are not the Rogue and Gambit whom we know - they come from the alternate future created by Legion's actions."

"Qui est Gambit?" Remy looked disgusted, "An' why d'ya keep sayin' dat I'm him? Do I look like de kinda o' person who'd choose such a stupid codename?"
[Who is Gambit?]

"Yes." Iceman laughed, "Well, not you. You from another reality."

"Dis Bobby Drake's  bout as annoyin' as de one back in our reality." He muttered to Sabrina who lowered her weapon suspiciously.

"So that means y'all are from th'  proper' future. Why'd you come back in time?"

"To stop a zealot, by the name of Legion, from changing time itself." Storm explained.

"We're here t'help." Remy nodded, "Me an' Sabs are prepared t'die t'make t'ings right again."

His wife's green eyes looked preoccupied and Storm wondered whether her heart was really in this mission. Whether she was as committed to the cause as Remy seemed to be. Whether she wanted time to revert to normal.

"Child?" Storm asked gently, "In this other reality, I was your best friend . . . if there is something preying on your mind, I am happy to listen to it."

Indecision played across Sabrina's face.

"Ah know this seems silly an' selfish but . . . but . . . in this other reality . . . are we . . . do we . . . love each other?"

Storm softened as she looked at the beautiful, young woman in front of her. Did she have the right to tell  Rogue' the whole truth - that they did but were unable to touch - or the responsibility to set her heart at rest?

The windrider smiled, knowing that the latter was the only choice she could make, "You love each other very much. Perhaps more than any two people I have ever seen."

Sabrina smiled slightly. "Thanks. Tell this . . . Rogue that she is lucky ta have you as a friend."

"Ahhhh . . . ." Iceman sighed, "What a beautiful moment."

"Don' have time f'r dem." Remy's mouth was set in a hard line, "Gotta stop dis Legion b'fore he messes up . . . ."

"I couldn't find him." David Haller said as he walked through the bushes to the clearing where they were stationed, "Have you had any more luck?"

"Or he could come to us?" Wolverine  growled, extending his claws.

"Back off, big guy." Sabrina levelled her gun at him, "Haller may be a gene traitor, but he's on our side foh once."

"You don't understand, darlin'. That's Legion."

"Legion is . . . me?" Haller sounded horrified, "It's somehow my fault that time has been altered?"

"Yeah." Wolverine edged closer, "And I'm going to put a stop to you - right here, right now."

"Stop! He may be David Haller, but he not be Legion." Remy stated, "He's from our timeline an' from de little I know  bout him, de killer came from yours. Stoppin' dis Haller will not stop de other one -  cause dey be two different people."

"Man. Alternate realities make my head spin . . . ." Iceman groaned.

"I would recommend that you gain possession of your senses immediately." Storm told him, "We do not have much time."

Quickly, she turned to David Haller, "Can you use your psychic powers to determine the location of Legion?"

"Now that I know his mindprint, I can find him ." Haller's face creased in concentration, "He's on a street a few blocks from here. If you'll follow me, I can lead you to him."

"Don't look like we have too much of a choice in th' matter." Sabrina shrugged, "Lead on, sugah."

Haller grinned at her, grateful for her support. The smile froze on his face as he felt the tip of a blade against his spine.

"Don' t'ink about it, mon ami." Remy's voice was icy, "You cost me my daughter - I sure as hell won' let you cost me my wife."

"You know I am sorry about . . . about what I did."

"If y'be right about dis bein' de wrong timeline, it won' matter - if ya ain't, once dis mission be over, I'll kill ya."

"I'll bear that in mind." Haller said, "For now, we need to work together if the mission is to succeed."

"D'accord." He sheathed the blade. "But only f'r now . . . ."

"Hurry up, Haller!" Iceman yelled, "I always thought leading a group meant being in the front."

Smiling to himself, Haller took the lead. Gravel crunched beneath his feet as he led the way through the twisting streets and lanes of the city.

"This is so familiar." Haller said, "Like I've been here before . . . ?"

"The Haller of our timeline was born here. Perhaps you were also?" Storm suggested.

David looked grim, "Our Israel became a nuclear desert after the first Interspecies War in 1953. I'm afraid the closest I've probably got to the country is in the Tri-D Vids we were shown at training school."

"All that's real nice, bub, but we're trying to preventany of it ever happening." Wolverine said, "So quit yammering and show us to the dirtbag who caused your reality in the first place."

Haller gestured to the street that lay ahead of them. The neon lights glowed an eerie yellow in the darkness, illuminating Legion and two other men - Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr.

"Here." He hissed, "He's here. And, my lord, he is me."

Legion's body crackled with latent power, revealing itself in his eyes and face. Although he looked insane, his voice was strangely lucid as snatches of it came to them on the night air.

"I  m afraid . . . should save . . . toasts for..."

"Who -- ?" Erik Lehnsherr spun around angrily.

"David Haller, right?" The MPF Lieutenant sprang out of his hiding place in the alleyway.

"But . . . ." Legion's eyes were wide with horror, "You're . . . me?"

"No. I'm not." Haller said angrily, lashing out with a psionic bolt that threw Legion to his feet.

"I didn't change time for the worse."

"For the worse?" Legion wrapped a telekinetic shield around Haller, attempting to strangle him, "For the better, you mean."

With something less than a thought, Haller extended his psionic aura and shattered Legion's noose.

"Try telling that to the people of my world who live under constant persecution. Try telling that to the one or two rebels who risk their lives doing something we all should. Try telling that to me - an ally in the supression of my own species."

"I cannot allow you to get in the way of my vision." Legion's eyes were wild, "You must die so that my goal may be acheived."

"Yes, in a sense. I will die with you, for we are ultimately one and the same." Haller formed a psionic blade, preparing to plunge it into the other's heart.

His doppelganger smiled confidently, "Do it. End our lives for the sake of a tainted dream."

"I don't end them for any dream, but for the future. Your future." He thrust it into Legion's chest.

For an instant, the two men were bonded, saw the world through each other's eyes, the future which Legion had tried to change and the future which he had created, both flawed, both imperfect, both real; then disintegrated in a flash of energy which burnt through the landscape, searing the eyes of the watching X-Men and rebels, the eyes and heart of Charles Xavier. The man who had lost more than his innocence that day.

"So a world ends." Storm said, "And a new one is born from the ashes."

"No. So our world ends, so that your one may be born." Sabrina corrected bitterly.

"It was fun while it lasted." Remy smiled, "Almost a pity we hadda do what we did."

"I would say your final goodbyes." Storm said gently, "It cannot be long now."

"Can y'all leave us ta say them in private?"

"Of course." Storm gestured to Wolverine and Iceman. "We too will be returning to our time soon enough."

The three X-Men walked off into the distance, leaving the couple, who had been through so much together, alone. Sabrina smiled at her husband.

"So, Ah guess this is goodbye."

"Oui." He grinned, "Would prefer to t'ink of it as an au revoir."

She laughed, "It's kind o' ironic, ain't it? We give our all ta save a world, then find out it ain't real after all."

"Least we know dat we did right while we could."

"Lawd. Don't go all preachy on me - Ah fell in love with you because you were so . . . amoral."

Tears clouded her green eyes.

"I'll miss you, Sabs."

"Ah'll miss you too, Remy." She looked into his eyes, "Don't care what that white-haired lapdog says about us lovin' each other - it won't be th' same."

"Could never be." He touched her cheek, "An' I doubt dat it could get much better dan dis."

She pressed his hand, "Imagine if'n we couldn't even touch . . . ."

"Shhh . . . ." He kissed her, "Dat ain't never gonna happen, Sabs."

"You're right. Either o' us woulda gone crazy long ago."

"Jus' in case . . . ."

He pressed his lips to hers, putting all his fears and hopes into the embrace. Brilliant light. The icy touch of crystal against his skin. The loss of sensation. The world slid away into darkness as time realigned itself...

Fire coursed through Rogue's body in an unfamiliar sensation. One she had not felt for eight years. Her lips tingled as she drew back, his touch still tangible on her skin, her psyche. Desire changed to disbelief as she saw his limp figure in her arms, then despair.

"What have Ah done?"

She touched Gambit's russet hair gently with one hand. The contact was unneccesary. She could already feel him inside her mind, his soul unfurling for her inspection. It was etched in letters of pain.

She watched, silent, horrified as the events of his life played before her like a picture show. A tragedy. A romance. A horror. His expulsion from the Guild of Thieves. His guilt over Genevieve Darceneaux . . . Belladonna. His deep and bitter loneliness. Memories of . . . her? Of her smile and laugh. Of their time spent together. Rogue went deeper, sensing something hidden, dark, shameful.

"Mah lawd." She gasped as it opened before her, "Oh, sweet Jesus, tell me you never did this, Remy?"

His silent figure offered her no comfort, lost in a catatonic state as it was, and his face looked peaceful as if he was dreaming about something far removed from the memories that she had seen.

From his past before he had become an X-Man. Rogue slowly stood and walked to the bathroom.

Her throat was dry and she splashed water over her face, attempting to cleanse her mind as well as her body. Without success. The memories kept flashing like a strobe  light across her consciousness. Blink. The entrance to a tunnel. Blink. Screams. Blink. A child. Blink. Silver eyes. Blink. The thrust of a knife. Blink. Blood. Blink. Pounding feet. Blink. The grin on Sabretooth's face. Blink. With supreme effort, Rogue pushed them to the back of her mind as she had with so many other people's dreams. Thoughts. Memories. She looked in the mirror, expecting to see her own guilt reflected there. Red irises stared back at her. Contemptous. Abashed. She drove her fist into it, smashing the glass, attempting to exorcise her shame. Shards scattered around the room like crystal confetti. She fell to her knees, sobbing. Unable to believe what she had just seen both in his mind and in the mirror. What she knew was the truth . . . .

Ah ran like a coward because Ah couldn't face him. Not knowing what Ah know. Not havin' seen what Ah've seen. It's kinda funny. You think you know someone, you fall in love with them an' are fillin' hope chests in your mind; when suddenly everythin' changes an' you find that they ain't th' person you thought they were. That you fell in love with your own perception of someone. Not who they really are, who they might o' been if things had been different. But things weren't - so Ah returned ta talk ta th' only person who Ah trusted ta keep things secret. Mah momma.

The young woman lands in the graveyard, tucking her coat around her slim body. She sits on the soft grass by the headstone marked Katherine Parker and lays the white roses on the grave.

"Ah'm back, momma." She says quietly, "A lot has happened since Ah last visited you. Since Ah last talked ta you."


"Ah've fallen in love an' had mah heart broken. . . ."


"Ah've been betrayed by him, just like daddy betrayed you." She looks down, "Only Ah know he never meant ta while daddy did."


"It's weird. Ah love him but Ah hate what he did. How can Ah love an' hate someone at th' same time?"

A whispered rush of wind plays with her hair, blowing it across her face. When she finally disentangles herself from the auburn and white strands, she sees a woman standing in front of her, dressed in a long, white robe and glowing like a sun. Rogue shelters her eyes. She has experienced blindness once before and does not want to do so again.

"Who are you?"

"Ah'm your mother, Sabrina."

"No. She's dead." Rogue stands, "Ah don't know what kinda game y'all is playin' but it's sick."

"This is no game. Ah have listened to you throughout the years, wondering if'n Ah could ever help you." She smiles, "Now Ah can."

"How, momma? Y'all is <b>dead</b>."

"Ah can provide an answer ta your question." Katherine sighs, "Ah went through it with your daddy. He beat me up every day an' twice on Sundays. Treated me like one o' his possessions. Like Ah wasn't a person so much as a punchin' bag. Yet Ah loved him in spite o' it all - still do in a way - though Ah hated what he did ta me."

Pity crosses Rogue's face. "Remy . . . that's his name . . . has nevah hurt me. Nevah laid so much as a finger on me. Until today."

"He beat you?"

"No." Rogue replies hastily, "Far worse. He kissed me."

"And you absorbed part of what he was." Katherine says, "Good an' bad."

Her daughter nods wordlessly, "More bad than good. He did stuff that Ah can't even begin ta describe. Crimes that defy any explanation or reasonin'."

"Have you asked him why he commited them?"

"That's the worst part o' it all. He's in a coma an' can't even tell me anythin'  bout why he did what he did."

The figure hugs her, surprisingly solid for a ghost, and runs transparent fingers through her streaked hair.

"Give him another chance. Heaven knows Ah gave your daddy enough."

"An' look where that got you." Rogue says angrily, "Ah don't deserve ta be loved - ta love - an' nor does he."

"Everyone deserves to be loved." She smiles, "Even rogues."

The younger woman's green eyes narrow to feline slits, "How do you know mah codename, momma?"

"What sort of mother would Ah be If'n Ah didn't keep track o' mah baby girl?"

"Momma . . . ." Rogue pauses, unsure of herself, "Thank you."

"Mah pleasure, sugah." The ghost smiles, "After all, what are parents foh?"

Another gust of wind and Katherine Parker vanishes as suddenly as she came. Rogue straightens the flowers on the grave and, with a kiss on the headstone, leaves the cementary, unaware that she is being watched by a pair of glowing yellow eyes.

Gambit sits up in bed and massages his head. It aches still, as if something had been torn out of place and jammed back in hastily. He reaches for the glass of water lying next to his bed and takes a sip of it. He feels as if he had been run over by a mule cart and can barely believe that all of this is the result of a single kiss. He picks up the photograph next to his bed and idly looks at it.

She smiles back at him. Green eyes bright in her beautiful face.

"Ma belle Rogue. I wonder where you be now."

"I see that you have woken." Storm turns the handle of the door and lets herself in.


"It is even good to hear you call me that ridiculous name again." She laughs, then grows serious, "I was worried about you."

"Don't go worryin' yaself about me. It take more dan a kiss t'keep me down." He grins.

"So our suspicions were correct. Your condition did result from . . . physical contact with Rogue."

"Oui." He replaces the photograph next to his bed, "Stormy, d'ya know where she is?"

"No." The windrider replies, "She hasn't even left a note telling us where she's going. Why she went."

"C'n tell ya why."

"Why, Remy?" She leans forward.

"She saw somet'ing in my mind."


"Somet'ing I did when I was jus' a pup. When I didn' know any better." He sighs, "When de shame o' doing somet'ing evil was worth de price I got paid t'do it."

"What did you do?" Her eyes are worried.

"Funny, chere. You'd t'ink I'd be able t'talk about it by now." He laughs slightly, "Havin' lived t'rough it every night f'r de past four years."

"You know I will not judge you for your past deeds." She holds his hand, "You have proven yourself to be a hero - an X-Man - too many times for that. I will stand by you, as will the rest of the team, no matter what you have done."

"Not after y'hear what I did." He replies, "Rogue didn' an' she said she loved me."

"I am sure she will return." She squeezes it reassuringly, "She may need some time to come to terms with everything she has seen."

"It's been four years an' *I* still haven' even come t'terms wit' it."

"Maybe that is because you have never faced it." She comments, "You have always hidden from the truth and it has always pursued you."

"Chere. I can' face what I've done." He says, "It be easier t'simply pretend it didn' happen an' go on wit' my life."

"Has it really been easier, Remy?" She asks, "Or has your inability to accept what you have done cost you everything about which you most cared?"

"I hope not . . . b'cause I have a feelin' dat I can't hide no longer. Dat de truth finally has caught up wit' me and I gotta pay for what I've done. Only hope dat de penance ain't de heart o' de woman I love . . . ."

It seems like all my life I've been hiding behind a mask; lost in a room o' smoke and mirrors. Dere is an exit somewhere, far off in the distance, but every turn in my life takes me farther from it and deeper into de lie. I t'ought once I saw the neon sign flashing de way out, but den the mist rose, and when it finally cleared, de sign was gone. My life is like dat: a funhouse of incredible complexity, twisting itself farther and farther in, approaching de center of a spiral. What is dere I don't know, yet don't want t'find out.You know how it is when you're trapped by de circumstances of your life, by what you've done. It's a feeling of utter hopelessness, of utter fear; fear of what you've done and what you might do. You need someone to pull you out; to set you free; to spring the trap. Dat's where she came in. But I've lost her now and I don't know if I have any hope of ever getting her back . . . both for myself an' my freedom.


Continued in Chapter 17.

1. Space-time is a concept therorised by Einstein. We do not live in the 3rd Dimension so much as the 4th. Easy example of this: You have to meet your friends on the 5th floor of a certain office building on a certain street. Three dimensions. But you also need to know at what time to meet them there - this adds a fourth dimension. If you're confused, don't worry. You don't need to understand this to enjoy my story.
2. I haven't touched much on Storm's involvement with McTaggert in the actual story. She was personal secretary to Emissary. Nuff said!
3. Tri-D Vids - Something I stole from the Jetsons. Videos which are in three dimensions compared with the usual two.
4. It was very necessary for Rogue to still have possession of her senses in the third paragraph. I have formulated a reason for this based on actual evidence from the comics. If the person struggles while Rogue is absorbing them (case in point: Ms Marvel), the struggle for domination will continue in Rogue's body, ensuring that the invader will take over at some times. If the person did not struggle while Rogue was absorbing them (case in point: Belle), they will not take over her body, because they were not struggling for control in the first place. See?
5. A change in tense is here for a simple reason. (Not my laziness and\or sloppiness) The events up to the kiss happened before the first-person narration and therefore were in the past. Now the events are being told as they happen, hence the present tense.
6. I feel what Storm says in the paragraph is the way the team should have reacted in the comics.

In Smoke and Mirrors 17:
* D-Day begins
* Rogue in Little Rhody
* Who is the mysterious woman who was in the graveyard? Big Hint: It ain't Meg Ryan!
* Gambit's past ... not revealed !
* Lobdell's cameo - I promise!


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